Episode 93: Special CES Edition covering all the things!

This week’s podcast has too many guests to list (I’m going to list them anyway) and a format that’s totally different. We start off with a discussion on the state of the smart home and what we can learn from CES about mainstream adoption featuring commentary from Cory Sorice, VP of connected platforms at Chamberlain, Jason Johnson, CEO of August, and Ed Zitron of EZPR who is representing the normals among us.

The Stringify table at CES shows some of the myriad connected devices out there today.

From there we hit news from Lutron, Moen and discover what the new Dot Dot standard is all about. After a brief ad from the sponsor for this special edition of the podcast, The Open Connectivity Foundation, we talk to Dr. Michael Bjorn head of research at Ericsson Consumer Lab who shared predictions about technology trends facing us in 2017.

And we wrap with a few thoughts on business models for the internet of things from Zach Suppala, the CEO of Particle, a bit about changing standards from Grant Erickson of the thread Group and finally touch on the challenge of device longevity from Chamberlain’s Sorice.

You’re gonna love it.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham
Sponsor: The Open Connectivity Foundation

  • What can CES tell us about the state of the smart home?
  • This smart shower feels dumb
  • What is Dot Dot?
  • Trends that matter in 2017
  • When can I safely buy a connected product?
  • Get ready to pay a subscription fee

Episode 92: At CES Amazon Alexa and robots rule

This week we bring our first impressions and several bits of news from CES, the consumer electronics trade show held annually in Las Vegas. I’m here while Kevin avoids the lines by staying in Pennsylvania, but we’re both happy to talk about connected grooming products, robots and the onslaught of Echo-related news. I also noticed that connected gadgets are essentially becoming a consumer’s chance to pay to be in a focus group, as their data is harvested through connected products.

This is a $200 hairbrush slated to come out later this year that measures how healthy your hair is.

Outside of the CES news, this week also has an enterprise IoT slant, with our guest Tim Crawford explaining how CIOs view the internet of things. Crawford is a CIO-for-hire and consultant who has helped advise companies through several tech transformations. We discuss how the role of the CIO needs to change and what new skills the IT organization as a whole must acquire.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Tim Crawford, CIO speaker and consultant
Sponsors: Dell and Level Education

  • Let’s talk about business partnerships and privacy
  • Routers to protect all the things
  • So much smart lighting news including news about Lutron and switches from WeMo
  • There’s a new IoT protocol in town … dotdot
  • CIOs have to understand the business, not just tech
  • You can’t just sprinkle security on an IoT project

Episode 79: Google’s Home versus Amazon’s Echo

Google finally told us what to expect with its Google Home product, a new mesh router configuration and an updated Chromecast this week at its hardware event. Kevin and I break down what we know about Google Home, how it compares to other devices on the market and also what we won’t know until we get the Home in our hot little hands. I expect mine on Nov. 8-10, so stay tuned. In more serious news, the use of IoT devices as a tool in DDoS attacks has everyone freaked out. We discuss why IoT devices are vulnerable and share a new checklist from the Online Trust Alliance on what you can do to help.

The Google Home sells for $129 and you can choose which color base makes the most sense for your home.
The Google Home sells for $129 and you can choose which color base makes the most sense for your home.

After that we talk to Danny Herztberg, a Realtor in Miami Beach who told me what devices make for a good investment and how his job has changed with the advent of smart home technology. He also pleads with device makers to make these things easier for consumers to use and understand.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Danny Hertzberg, The Jills
Sponsors: ARM and Hewlett Packard Enterprise

  • Google Home v. Amazon Echo
  • How to protect your connected gear and why you should
  • Connected locks are the new granite countertops
  • What devices offer the most investment value

Episode 73: AI is just a buzzword

Can we change the way companies use our consumer and personal data derived from connected devices? Gilad Meiri, the CEO of Neura, discusses a new model for data privacy and a way to apply machine learning to connected devices. The results he’s after sound like magic, but we explore how it could be made real in this week’s show.

Would you spend $60 on this NFC-enabled ring?
Would you spend $60 on this NFC-enabled ring?

Before we talk about AI and privacy, Kevin Tofel and I discuss the possible reasons behind Amazon’s reportedly new streaming music plan for the Echo, news in the world of connected cars and a new Ecobee thermostat spotted at the FCC. Kevin may also buy some connected jewelry made with NFC chips inside. Finally, we talk about turning your home into a smart house ahead of putting it on the market. It’s pricey, but is it worth it?

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Gilad Meiri, CEO of Neura
Sponsors: ARM and the Smart Kitchen Summit

  • Amazon wants to charge $5 for an Echo-only music service?
  • Staging the smart home with August, Lutron and Nest
  • Kevin’s eyeing NFC jewelry
  • AI is mostly a buzzword at this point
  • Consumers alone will not be able to preserve their data privacy

Episode 53: How to prevent good devices from being killed

This week’s show deals with recurring themes such as whether or not you should trust the cloud, device lifespan, the Amazon Alexa platform and more lighting than a Times Square billboard. Our guest this week is Mike Pessina, the co-CEO of Lutron. He shares his recipes for great lighting (at the very end) and talks about the role of Lutron’s proprietary wireless protocol for lighting control in a world that is rapidly embracing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Before we learn about Lutron, Kevin Tofel and I discuss the news that Nest plans to shut down all Revolv smart home hub devices that are in the field, turning the $299 device into a hunk of metal and plastic scrap.

A Lutron Caseta dimmer switch (left) installed near the Osram Lightify wireless dimmer switch (right). A regular rocker switch is in the middle.
A Lutron Caseta dimmer switch (left) installed near the Osram Lightify wireless dimmer switch (right). A regular rocker switch is in the middle.

While Revolv sold fewer than 10,000 units, those who own one are upset. We came up with a few suggestions that might help other connected device companies avoid alienating their users in case of failure or a sale. On the brighter side, Amazon’s Alexa platform is gaining new smarts, with the Smart Home API now available to anyone. We also tell you how to control your TV with Alexa and review the Amazon Dot. This week you also get a second review, of the Osram Lightify dimmer switch, which renters and folks who aren’t keen on replacing their wired switches will like. And once again, we ask that you take our survey if you have a chance.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Michael Pessina, Co-CEO of Lutron

  • The Revolv fiasco is bad for the smart home.
  • Where did you put your Amazon Dot?
  • Get Alexa to turn on your TV with Yonomi.
  • Who should buy this $30 Osram dimmer switch?
  • What’s next for Lutron

Episode 28: Warm and fuzzy drones and living with Apple’s HomeKit

Several HomeKit devices finally arrived in the house and were installed with relative ease. I had the Lutron bridge that had come out earlier this summer paired with two dimmer switches, a lamp module and my Nest thermostat, the new Philips Hue bridge that is HomeKit enabled paired to five Hue lights and a Schlage Sense lock installed on my back door. It was a good smattering of devices, but unfortunately it was the wrong smattering, because none of the apps seemed to have a way to bring all of the individual devices together, unless it was through Siri. Listen up as Kevin and I discuss a full review of the products on this week’s podcast.

The outside-facing side of my HomeKit-enabled Schlage Sense lock.
The outside-facing side of my HomeKit-enabled Schlage Sense lock.

We also cover August smart lock’s new video doorbell, keypad and access plans and Savant’s new DIY home automation system. But most of our time is spent on HomeKit, Apple and little bit of comparison between that and other solutions on the market, such as the Amazon Echo. Our guest for the week covers the topic of helping people age in place through the use of drones. Not today’s drones, but a warmer, fuzzier version that is autonomous. Naira Hovakimyan, a professor in Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois discusses her research in developing autonomous drones that work with people and don’t frighten people. Listen up to find out how she plans to transition from farming to helping the elderly.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Naira Hovakimyan, a professor in Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois